The European Union (EU) Commission has presented the results of its consultation on the promotion of healthy diets and physical activity, with a focus on the prevention of overweight, obesity and chronic diseases.

The consultation, launched in December 2005, put forward a number of different policy options for the consideration of stakeholders across Europe. Over 260 responses were received, including input from governments, the public health community, the food industry, universities and the general public.

Most contributors called for a multi-sector approach, involving action and coherence across EU policies, the Commission said in a statement. Many contributors also called for special attention to be paid to children and youth where fast increases in obesity are being seen. There were also calls for better consumer information on nutrition.

“I welcome the results of the consultation,” said EU Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou. “The results of the consultation provide us with valuable feedback from all interested parties and will inform our strategy to promote healthy lifestyles. The Commission will now further consider which policy options to adopt, and fine-tune its action with the right balance between voluntary agreements and legislative action.”

Underlining the Commission’s willingness to involve all stakeholders in tackling the problem, Kyprianou said that the European Commission’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Network and the EU Platform on Diet, Physical Activity and Health would be “key forums to discuss these issues further with government, industry and civil society and to identify ways to engage stakeholders and make progress on these issues”.

Around 14m children in Europe currently overweight, according to the European Commission’s figures, of which more than 3m are obese. The Commission says this is now “an urgent public health issue requiring coordinated action at EU level, as well as within Member States”.